Fans have long sought an explanation for Ruth Wilson's shocking exit from The Affair, but, so far, the actor hasn't been able to give one. Now, however, possible reasons Wilson reportedly quit The Affair after Season 4 have come to light in a lengthy new report published in The Hollywood Reporter's Dec. 19 issue. The article cited sources on the show who described a "hostile" and "toxic" work environment, which reportedly led to Wilson's ultimate departure from her Golden Globe-winning role as Alison Bailey on the drama. Some of Wilson's biggest concerns, they claimed, were related to pressure she felt surrounding nude scenes.
Noting in its report that Wilson understood her starring role would "likely involve some disrobing," THR's sources claimed that showrunner Sarah Treem "cajoled" the actor into gratuitous scenes "with no clear creative rationale for the nudity other than for it to be titillating." One person connected to production claimed that there was an incident when Wilson questioned why more nudity was required of her, compared to a male co-star. After the actor "expressed her concerns repeatedly," she reportedly received push-back and was "labeled difficult."
Treem categorically denied any wrongdoing, calling the accusations "utterly ridiculous" and lacking "a grounding in reality," in a statement to THR. "That's not who I am. I am not a manipulative person, and I've always been a feminist," she said, adding that she "did everything I could think of to make [Wilson] feel comfortable with these scenes." Bustle reached out to reps for both Wilson and Treem, but did not receive a response.
THR further described another instance when Wilson declined to shoot what a source called a "rapey" sex scene that involved her character being pushed up against a tree by costar Dominic West. The insider claimed that "Ruth was very unamused by it" and a body double ultimately stepped in for her. (THR pointed out that Wilson's body double, Ashlynn Alexander, sued Showtime for retaliation and discrimination in 2017, claiming she was fired after confronting a male assistant director for describing her on a call sheet as "Alison Sexytime Double." The case was later settled.)
A source also claimed that, during a chance Sept. 2016 meeting in Montauk, NY between cast members from HBO's Girls, The Affair executive producer and director Jeffrey Reiner asked Lena Dunham to meet with Wilson. As described in THR's report (and previously in a blind item on Dunham and Jenni Konner's Lenny Letter website), Reiner reportedly also showed Dunham a graphic photo of Affair actor Maura Tierney with a penis next to her face, taken from a closed set. Bustle reached out to Reiner, but he declined to comment. Bustle also reached out to a rep for Tierney, but did not receive a response.
This account has been disputed, however. An assistant director on The Affair, Cleta Ellington, who was present for the meeting between Dunham and Reiner, told Bustle in a statement that Konner mischaracterized the day's events. Claiming that only she, Reiner, and Dunham — not Konner — were directly part of "this now infamous 10 minute conversation," Ellington claimed the chat was "filled with hilarious banter and witty outtakes between two filmmakers in charge of two shows that both tackled difficult sexual themes." Adding that "Lena was the provocateur in the conversation," she admitted they "did discuss nudity, body doubles, the ins and outs of filming sex scenes" — but not in the way Konner reported in what she called a "click bait smear against a trusted colleague."
In Feb. 2017, Wilson reportedly filed a formal complaint against Showtime, as sources told THR, alleging a "hostile work environment." Showtime opened an investigation, and, as a result, Reiner was not permitted to direct any future Affair episodes that included Wilson, per THR. After the actor eventually negotiated her exit from the series, she also shot her final episodes on the condition that Treem was not present on set.
Showtime addressed the reported investigation, in a statement to Bustle: "When confronted with a report of inappropriate behavior involving anyone within our offices or productions, we immediately initiate a process overseen by our compliance team in the case of our own shows, or in the case of series we license from others, we collaborate closely with the relevant production studio. In the instances that THR is referencing, appropriate and decisive action was taken."
Since leaving The Affair, Wilson has remained relatively tight-lipped, simply telling The New York Times in Aug. 2018, "I'm not really allowed to talk about it." She did confirm her exit had nothing to do with "pay parity" or "other jobs," cryptically adding that there's "a much bigger story." As THR noted, however, Wilson reportedly signed an NDA, and, as such, may never be able to publicly discuss the circumstances that led her away from The Affair.